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affected by the alliances and affiliations of the various
governments concerned, and might even be decided
Jby sympathies in ideology. Let us suppose it to have
become clear that if a conference were assembled the
result was a foregone conclusion and Germany was so
to speak outvoted in advance. I began to wonder
whether in such a case she was necessarily more selfish
than anybody else when she refused to put her head in
the noose  I began to wonder also whether the virtues
of Britain were quite so much to boast about when they
coincided so nicely with her interests. This argument
might be projected on to a wider canvas altogether ; for
without doubting the good intentions of the men who
have ruled England in the last few decades, one must
note that if a Machiavellian imperialist statesman had
happened to be governing us with purely egotistical
purposes in view, he would have found the conference
method the best way of promoting our national interests,
indeed the only way in view of the decline of actual
British power and in view of the general distribution of
forces in the world. In other words Great Britain in
our time has been in a position which we must regard as
fortunate in a certain respect, in that the policy which
altruism would have dictated to her happened to be the
same as the one which self-interest would demand  so
that, though the conference method has been promoted
so often by Englishmen who were only conscious of it
as a noble aspiration, it has also been described as the
only method of realpolitik left to us. The conference
method is more advantageous to us than any decision
to measure forces with a rival, even if the voting should